Ralls-Tan credits the SDU with helping her find her husband.
Four years after signing up for its computerized matchmaking service, a marriage adviser called her with "the perfect guy." They were married in 2000 and now have a 6-month-old girl."Without the SDU, we never would have met,'' says Ralls-Tan, laughing. We'll have at least three."Currently, the average Singapore woman has 1.6 children 2.1 is the rate demographers think Singapore needs to maintain its population without immigration.
But to many Singaporeans, the SDU's focus on "educated" singles is nothing short of social engineering: an effort to preserve the current racial balance between the city's Chinese majority and the Malays, who tend to be less educated.
The SDU provides subsidized mixers, trips, and computer matchmaking services to college-educated Singaporeans.
About 3,600 members of the program married last year, Since its inception, the SDU says 50,000 Singaporeans have been married through its offices."The government isn't holding guns to people's heads it recognizes that marriage is a deeply personal choice,'' says Pamela Pung, an SDU spokeswoman.
"This is just a way of widening the circle of opportunities."Ms.
Karen Ralls-Tan remembers a time when her dating prospects were bleak."It was just hard to meet people," says the 31-year-old civil servant.
Except for one thing: The same organization also happens to be the world's only government-run dating service.
Singapore's Social Development Unit (SDU) and programs like it have helped earn this tiny nation a reputation as the ultimate nanny state.